On Tuesday, Joe Biden allegedly took time during his two-hour video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin to threaten more sanctions if Russia takes further action against Ukraine, according to USA Today.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan summarized the two-hour teleconference for a gathering of reporters, claiming that Biden and Putin were “direct and straightforward” with each other. Biden, according to Sullivan, said that he would prefer a diplomatic resolution regarding Ukraine, but that he nevertheless “looked President Putin in the eye and told him today that things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now.”
Sullivan said that “there was a lot of give and take,” but that “there was no finger-wagging,” and Biden “was crystal clear about where the United States stands on all of these issues.”
The threats came after U.S. intelligence reports indicate that Russia is building up its troops along the Ukrainian border, in what appears to be preparations for a large-scale invasion. Although the same intelligence also believes that Putin has not yet decided on whether or not to pull the metaphorical trigger on Ukraine, the manpower and resources are in place that would allow such an invasion to be carried out.
Russia, under President Putin, had previously invaded Ukraine in 2014 during the presidency of Barack Obama, and successfully occupied and annexed the Crimean peninsula. Despite global outrage that included economic sanctions and being removed from the Group of Eight summit, or G8, Putin did not back down. Obama’s response at the time was especially characterized as weak and insufficient to deter Russia’s aggression.
By contrast, the Kremlin’s summary of the call between Biden and Putin described the conversation as “candid and businesslike.”
“Putin emphasized that it’s wrong to put the responsibility on Russia,” the Kremlin said in a statement, “since it is NATO that has been making dangerous attempts to expand its presence on the Ukrainian territory and has been expanding its military potential near Russian borders.”
Following his call with Putin, Biden allegedly sought advice from several European leaders on the matter, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.